New Zipp 858 NSW wheelset – Triathlete

Exam score

Zipp took an already fast (and expensive) wheel, made it significantly lighter, increased the inner rim width from 18mm to 23mm, and added a few millimeters of depth to their unique sawtooth design. The result is an extremely fast wheel, but one that also might not work on all bikes or tire preferences.

Removing 244 grams from a 1800 gram wheelset is actually a big deal

Zipp claims additional watt savings with the deeper profile

A wider internal rim width is better optimized for wide tires (resulting in lower pressure and a smoother ride)

Hookless design adds a claimed saving of 8 watts in rolling resistance

Still so expensive

A minimum tire width of 25mm may not suit everyone

Optimized for 28mm tires which may not fit many frames or forks



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Ever since 2005 when Zipp introduced an 81mm dimple wheel, triathletes have had a love affair with the 808 wheelset. Never content to just go with a 40-65mm deep carbon wheel , triathletes have always been okay with the added weight penalty, knowing that the 80(ish)mm wheelset would yield big aero gains without the sketchy handling, rough ride and massive weight penalty of a disc entirely in carbon. In the years since, Zipp has made some tweaks, most recently creating the older 858 NSW with a 77/82mm undulating rim depth which they claim offered most of the frontal aero benefits with fewer handling issues. crosswind. This year’s big update to the 858 NSW could have easily justified some kind of inscrutable name change (like the 868 NSW.1 or a mess), but they kept the same name, while making the new wheel all except.

RELATED: Understanding Rim Depth for Triathletes

Zipp 858 NSW: The Basics

Before we get into what’s new for this version of the 858 NSW, let’s quickly talk about the basics of this wheelset: First, you’re looking at a fairly expensive $4400 wheelset ($2000 front 12x100mm disc only, $2,400 rear 12×142 disc only) which is available in SRAM XDR or SRAM/Shimano compatible hubs. The wheels are 24 spoke front and rear, with ZZR1 DB hubs with 66 engagement points. Although this is an optimized tubeless wheelset, Zipp says you can use a tubeless compatible tire with a tube inside to act as a tire setup if you don’t want to worry about sealant and tubeless seats, however, you can’t use a standard tubed clincher tire. There is no rim brake option.

RELATED: Ask an Equipment Guru: What Are Tubeless Tires Used For?

New features in this updated version of the 858 NSW include an internal width of 23mm (the old version was 18mm), which means you can only use a tubeless compatible tire 25mm wide or wider. The new 858s are also optimized for 28mm tires, but Zipp even encourages riders to use 30mm. Also, the new versions have gone through a fairly substantial diet, slashing the wheelset’s overall weight by 274 grams, down to a very svelte 1530g per wheelset, something more in line with a pair of hoops from 50 to 60 mm. Part of that weight reduction is likely due to the hookless rim profile, which Zipp says saves 8 watts in rolling resistance when used with 28mm tubeless tires. but surprisingly the new wheels are actually deeper than the old set – 82mm-85mm alternating from the old version at 77mm-82mm. More on what this means below.

Zipp 858 NSW: the good one

We were lucky enough to spend some time on a set of new 858s just before they launched, and one of Zipp’s main claims was that the updated profile meant less crosswind forces. To challenge that head-on, we slapped a pair of Continental 5000 28mm TLRs on the 858s and bolted them to the squirreliest tri-rig in our arsenal, the new Argon E-117.

Imagine our surprise when the new 858s dramatically softened the bike’s notoriously rough and rough ride almost immediately. The crosswind forces felt more like a 55mm-65mm wheelset than anything north of an 82mm rim, and we were able to use the optimized 28mm tires – which were very tight rear – at 58 psi (front) and 61 psi (rear), as recommended by Zipp. This low-pressure situation helped smooth out the usually bumpy ride of the Argon-plus-carbon-deep rim combo, and also made for fantastic cornering.

Plus, the nearly 15-percent reduction in rotating weight allowed us to power through rolling climbs, accelerate out of corners, and generally have a super fun time in what is usually a more awkward riding situation. These wheels have both smoothed out a bike that’s usually a little hard to handle while also upping the fun factor on the climbs and corners. In terms of flat out speed in the aerobars, the increased depth made them scream.

RELATED: Why it’s time to look at wide wheels

Zipp 858 NSW: the good one

First, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: $4,400 is a lot for a pair of wheels. In fact, $4,400 is not a cheap bike. And while Zipp (thankfully) dropped the price of the new version of their “budget” 80mm carbon wheels, the 808 Firecrest, from $2,800 to $2,300, they couldn’t budge on the price. of the 858 NSW. The price not only makes this a wheelset for an exclusive group of triathletes who have the money to buy them, but there are a few other features on this new release that only work for a select few.

If you are interested in this wheelset, you must be 100% sure that your bike can accommodate 25mm tires and that you want to use 25mm tires. all the time. While I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no reason you should run less than that, especially on this wheelset, just know that a 21mm or 23 mm is out of the question, according to Zipp, due to the new 23mm inner rim depth. We found that the suggested 28mm Continental GP 5000 TLR tires barely cleared the rear triangle of our new 2022 Argon E-117 frameset, so if you’re dreaming of speed-optimized 28mm be super super sure that your framework will work. Also keep in mind that you must also use a tubeless compatible tire, due to the hookless rim design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a tubeless compatible tire with an inner tube in it. interior.

Finally, while the crosswind forces on the new 858 NSW were greatly reduced – and the handling of our usually nervous Argon was much more stable – we did experience some weird wobble from time to time when large vehicles passed. It was a unique feel for the 858s that we hadn’t often felt on other axles in the 50-85mm range, and it wasn’t something we worried about, but it was slightly noticeable.


If you set aside the high price and user-limiting features of the new Zipp 858 NSWs (things like its tubeless-only and 25mm+-only tire), this is actually a game of fairly revolutionary wheels. In the past, triathletes would typically choose a frame and then buy wheels around that frame. The old way of thinking was that frame weight mattered (it doesn’t really matter, in triathlon) and you needed a nice carbon frame to get a nice, smooth ride that wouldn’t beat you up. We would spend more money on a frame with a faster and/or more comfortable ride and one that handles better. With the introduction of an 82mm+ wheelset that tips the scales at 1530g (remember rotational weight is more important than static weight, as you’ll find on a frame) and is optimized for the 28mm tires you can run at very low pressures like 58 /61psi like we did, you take the gun out of the frame hand when it comes to weight and ride/handling characteristics.

In other words, you could put this wheelset on a tough tri bike that had good aero but was a bit beefy/rough, and the low pressure/high width tires would smooth out the ride for you to do ‘t be so beat on the bike (and later, the race). You would also take a lot of the weight penalty off because a 1530 gram wheelset can roll up a hill much quicker and easier than an 1800 gram pair.

Of course, this wheelset isn’t for everyone, given its price and tire limitations, but if you’ve been hesitant to go for a wider tire or go entirely tubeless (and you know your bike can accommodate the width), this wheelset should pique your interest. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I would consider putting this $4000+ wheelset on a $2000 tunnel tested tri-frame, and I’d probably end up faster, happier and more comfortable than most $8,000 frame/wheel setups would ever reach. Hats off to Zipp for once again giving triathletes something new and exciting to envy.

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